Kym L. Pasqualini is the founder and former CEO of Nation's Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults.
*WARNING: This story may contain disturbing details.
Joel Guy Jr., 28, and his sisters gathered with their parents Joel and Lisa Guy on Thanksgiving in 2016, at their parent’s two-story home located on a beautiful, perfectly manicured, corner lot on Goldview Lane in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Recently retired, Joel was a pipeline engineering designer and the couple had been married 31 years. Joel had three daughters by a previous marriage and Lisa and Joel Sr. gave birth to their youngest son Joel Michael Guy Jr. in 1988.
It would be their last holiday together in their family home. Joel Sr. and Lisa had just sold their Knoxville home. Lisa was going to retire, and both were moving into Joel Sr.’s late mother’s mountain home 90 miles away in Surgoinsville. They all looked forward to a Christmas Reunion in the Surgoinsville home just a month away.
The Guys said goodbye to their daughters, who all live in Tennessee, and planned to say goodbye to their son, Joel on Friday of that week before he headed home to Baton Rouge. He had been living in Baton Rouge for a decade and financially supported by his parents. The Guys had mentioned to their daughters that they planned to cut Joel Jr. off financially, right after the Thanksgiving get together,
It is not clear if Joel and Lisa ever got the opportunity to tell their youngest son they were no longer going to support him financially, but Lisa’s coworkers became worried when she did not show up at work on Friday, November 25. Lisa worked at Jacob’s Engineering, in Oakridge, where she was a human resource account payable administrator. It was supposed to be Lisa’s last day before she retired. After calling Lisa repeatedly with no answer, her coworkers called the police and requested a welfare check at the Guy’s home.
Knox County Officers Jeremy McCord and Steven Ballard and several other officers responded to 11434 Goldenview Lane to conduct a welfare check and found it seemingly empty. However, the house was for sale, but no real-estate lock on the front door. Looking inside from the front door, they could see groceries such as ice cream, sausage, and bacon sitting on the floor in the foyer.
The police rounded the back of the home and noticed the doorknob had been removed and placed on the front door. They also could feel the heat emanating from the house, along with an odd chemical smell. One of the officers opened one of the Guy’s cars in the driveway and pressed the garage door opener giving them access to the house.
The officers first inside the home discovered the thermostat was set at 90 degrees. They approached a table with both Joel and Lisa’s wallets and a sledgehammer sitting on top, then another table with long guns sitting atop. They passed the groceries they had spotted from outside and in the kitchen was a stockpot boiling on the stove. Investigators would later discover the pot contained the decapitated head of Lisa Guy.
Knox County Sheriff’s deputies who discovered the crime scene had a “physical reaction” to the odor in the home.
The officers proceeded to ascend the stairway where they heard a dog barking. They found the dog locked in a bedroom. Looking down the hallway, they could see blood-spattered walls and discovered Joel Sr’s dismembered hands on the floor with large spots of blood on the rug.
Horrified by what they were seeing, the officers continued to search. In the bathroom, they found both Joel and Lisa’s dismembered corpses sitting inside plastic tubs in a homemade acidic solution.
Investigators arrived on the second-floor crime scene and found Lisa’s clothing, which had been cut off her body, along with sewer line cleaner, baking soda, Liquid Fire drain cleaner, lye, hydrogen peroxide, muriatic acid, bleach, and a bleach sprayer. Nearby sat a suitcase that had a note in it with the name of an Ace Hardware Store, and a notation about sewer line cleaner.
The home was so hazardous that the investigators had to wear HAZMAT suits to process the crime scene.
An officer at the scene described it as the “most horrific thing (he’s) ever encountered in law enforcement, in life.”
“It’s in the one percentile of homicides in the United States that involve mutilation or dismemberment. It’s not something we run across,” Maj. Michael Mac Lean of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office told the Washington Post. “Usually there’s a motivation behind it, in this case, we just don’t know what that is.”
Police Make Quick Arrest
The motive would soon become evident. With no shortage of physical evidence, the FBI and East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office placed Guy Jr. under surveillance after the crime scene was discovered. His motivation would quickly become apparent—it was money.
Joel Guy Jr. was arrested a day after the bodies were discovered and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, felony murder, and abuse of a corpse.
Joel Michael Guy Jr. graduated from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts in 2006. He has never been employed and entirely supported by his parents. In fact, Lisa’s friends said she tirelessly worked only to give her son most of her paycheck.
Guy Jr. spent one semester at George Washington University then attended Louisiana State University supposedly training to become a plastic surgeon. He was living in Baton Rouge up to the murders.
The FBI arrested Guy Jr. outside his East Baton Rouge Parish apartment Tuesday as he walked to his car in the complex parking lot.
When interviewed by police, Guy Jr. told police he had been visiting his parents over the Thanksgiving holiday. He did not disclose a motive but did tell investigators he had talked to his parents about money.
Attorney Leslie Nassios spoke at Joel Jr. s’ trial and released new graphic details of the murders. State prosecutors said due to its graphic nature, this was a crime scene unlike many others in the United States. They warned the victim’s families and attendees to leave the courtroom if they feel like they are overwhelmed emotionally.
As Joel Guy Jr. sat in the courtroom blankly looking forward, Nassios began describing how Joel Guy Sr. died. According to Nassios, he suffered 42 sharp force injuries so brutal that 12 marks were left on his ribs that ranged from scratches to severing.
Severe damage was caused to Guy Sr.’s lungs, kidneys, and liver. He also had an injury on his shoulder so severe, that a fragment of the weapon was deposited in the muscle tissue.
Then, Guy Sr.’s hands were severed at the wrists, his arms severed at the shoulder and legs removed at his hip. According to court records, his foot was severed at the ankle. Nassios said Guy Sr. had fiercely fought for his life. After the murder his clothing was cut off his body and left in a bloody pile on the floor.
According to court transcripts, Lisa was stabbed 31 times, causing 21 severe injuries, stab wounds to the buttocks, and severed 9 of her ribs.
Her clothing was cut off her body and left on the floor. Her arms were severed at the shoulder and her legs cut below the knees.
Their bodies were placed in two 45-gallon containers with a mixture of drain cleaner, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, sewer line cleaner, and other chemicals trying to quickly dissolve their bodies in the home-made acid solution.
Authorities believe the couple was killed sometime between Friday and mid-day Saturday.
The crime scene was so unimaginable, that State prosecutors would describe the discovery as a “diabolical stew of human remains.”
Police found a notebook filled with Guy Jr.’s plans in his parent's Knoxville home. Shockingly, he wrote a list of things to do prior to the murders, along with noting items to bring with him to include a blender and a food processor.
Guy Jr. listed items, like a sledgehammer and “killing knives,” needed to murder his parents and a plan of where and when to kill them.
He planned to use the sledgehammer to crush his parent’s bones.
“Bring blender and food grinder,” the notes said. “Grind meat.”
“Flush chunks doing the toilet.”
“Get plastic bin for denature process.”
Investigators would later find receipts showing Guy Jr. bought the chemicals at a Walmart in Knoxville. When his car trunk was opened in Louisiana after the arrest, he had a meat grinder in the trunk.
Guy Jr. carefully listed the methods he would use to kill his parents then destroy evidence. In his note it first said, “Kill Dog,” that he crossed out, followed by “Take the dog with you.”
Police found the dog locked inside a second-floor bedroom incessantly barking.
The note goes on to detail how he would begin the forensic manipulation process and dismemberment.
“Place her in shower. Turn on hot water and point it at her to get rid of forensics. Remove her clothes and take them with me for disposal.”
“Cut off his arm and plant his flesh under her fingernails. Place her hand with his DNA so that his DNA is not washed away by shower.”
“Place hair curler with flammable paper and flammable containers of gasoline in four locations-his killing room, her killing room, his bathroom, her bathroom.”
According to Wikipedia, Guy Jr. sustained several cuts to his hands in the assault on his father, including a cut on his left thumb. After the murders, he is seen at Walmart’s first aid section, getting ointment and bandages. He also purchased isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. On Sunday, he drove back to Baton Rouge to be treated at a student clinic, with intentions to return to Knoxville to finish his diabolical deeds.
Guy Jr. had one motive—it was money. In detail, he listed his parent’s assets and his notes provide some insight as to how he would achieve gaining his parent’s property to include life insurance, the Knoxville house, the Surgoinsville home, car, SUV, boat, and an old truck.
“Her life insurance-$500,00 (possibly more with double indemnity).”
A motive as old as the Sun, but what kind of monster would so callously and brutally murder their own parents?
Trial and Sentencing
Guy Jr.’s trial lasted four days and involved more than 700 pieces of evidence and 27 witnesses. He was sentenced to life in prison on October 2, 2020, by Judge Steven Sword who called this case the “most extreme form of abuse of a corpse” he has seen in his 25-year career.
Guy Jr. was found guilty on all charges including two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree felony murder, and two counts of abuse of a corpse. According to Knox County Judge Sword, the jury found him guilty unanimously on all 7 counts.
The judge told Guy Jr. that he “thinks he’s smarter than he really is,” saying that the crime was committed in a very “unintelligent” way.
According to WVLT TV, Judge Sword said Guy Jr. showed no remorse for his actions during the trial and even appeared “proud” of his actions. He also said Guy Jr. has a “depraved mind” that would not change over time.
Guy Jr. will not be eligible for release for 130 years. However, during sentencing Judge Sword said 300 years “isn’t enough time” to reasonably relate to what Guy Jr. did.
Remembering the Victims
The family posted a combined obituary for their parents, describing them both having a sense of humor, loving and kind-hearted. They were married for 31 years and described as soulmates.
“They enjoyed anything that involved being together which included being in nature and on the water. They loved their kids and adored their grandchildren.
The victim’s family members were permitted to provide verbal victim impact statements at the court proceeding on October 2, 2020.
“My sister, Lisa Guy, was truly one of the most loving, caring, and forgiving people on the face of this earth,” said her older brother Alvin as he spoke to Guy Jr. at the sentencing. Reading from a prepared statement he said, “Her husband, my brother-in-law, Joel Guy Sr. was honestly one of the most down to earth, hard-working, and kind people I ever met. They were the type of people who would help out anyone anytime they could.”
Alvin told how this mother and Guy Jr.’s elderly grandmother collapsed upon hearing the news her daughter was brutally murdered by her grandson. She was taken to the hospital where she later died.
“Before I could bring her back [home] she truly died of a broken heart,” said Alvin, shaking and emotional.
An especially emotional statement came from Joel Sr.’s daughter Tina. She did not have a written statement prepared and spoke from the heart.
“Dad and Lisa were wonderful; they were larger than life. They were so happy. Such really good people—and they loved him. They loved him so much. They loved all of us,” Tina said.
Barely able to speak, she went on. “For anyone, for him to do what he did, I don’t understand it. He has taken something from myself, from my children, Dad and Lisa’s grandchildren, my husband, and everyone in my family. He has taken from us that we will never get back.”
Guy Jr. sat without emotion, sometimes asking for water, as he watched each family member get up to speak.
Guy Sr.’s daughter Angela was the next up to speak at the sentencing. Overcome by emotions, she began by saying she was not prepared to speak that day, but her words leave a lasting impression of a daughter who was robbed of her father.
“For four years I felt like I have pushed it down like it is not really happening—but it’s real, and they are gone.” Through tears, Angela’s voice cracks. “And dad was my best friend, and I will never get to hear his laugh again, or his incredible hugs.
She described her father as a great storyteller, and how she loved to go fishing with him, and how she was robbed of her father walking her down the aisle.
“I still have dad on speed dial, and it hurts for me to never to get to speak to him again,” Angela said.
Michelle is the third daughter of Guy Sr. and the last to speak at her brother’s sentencing. Her grief was apparent as she held her cell phone shaking as she struggled to read her statement.
“I’m angry at my dreams being destroyed, but I’m not the only one that has been affected,” Angela said. “This has impacted my kids and for that, I will never be able to forgive. I can rest easy knowing that God is okay with my choice to forgive someone that has murdered my parents.”
She concluded by saying, “I have had to spend the last four years trying to save my children’s souls, their spirits and their hearts. I have spent the last four years cleaning up a mess. No one will ever know what it's like to have to be a child having to hear your grandmother’s head was cooking in a pot. She finished by saying, “On a super selfish note, you will never know what it’s like to have to tell your children that their grandparents were chopped up and put in acid.”
This most horrific and heart-wrenching case has no doubt scarred a family and community, along with the jury who had to witness the graphic details and crime scene photographs that will forever be etched in the minds.
© 2020 Kym L Pasqualini
MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 29, 2020:
I am very pained to read this article. It was a diabolical crime and merited nothing short of the death sentence. I wonder why it was not awarded. Your article was very riveting and interesting.